Thursday, August 30, 2007

2007 Preserves

This has been a challenging garden year, between the dry spells, the wet spells, the heat, and our busy lives in general. Still, we've already managed to put up more food than last year, and we hope to get a few more good weeks in before things really taper off in the garden. We lost at least 100 tomatoes to the rain--probably more--batches and batches of sauce. We've gotten a few good batches in though. This year we opted to skip the boiling, de-seeding, coring and peeling and go for a food mill. With ripe tomatoes, this thing is a dream. Orange tomatoes make it a bit more of a chore. In some respects, it's as much labor, because you have to set the thing up, clean it, wash all of the catch bowls, etc. It's far more efficient though. I end up with a small dry pile of peel and seeds instead of a huge pile of gorp. Check out the before and after shot of how much more pulp and juice I got and how much "waste" was reduced, just by re-processing the "waste" from my initial run through of the tomatoes.

Yes, these are actual pictures. No, my kitchen's never really this clean except for pictures and company.
We also invested in a pressure cooker, but we've only done one batch of sauce in it. I don't really care for the sauce that we've found recipes that are safe for canning for. We've eaten lots of my own special non-recipe (sauteed onion, garlic, lots o' garden herbs, simmered waaay down, S&P at the end) and frozen 4 pints. I also did a few batches of salsa verde about a month ago, before the tomatoes started turning. With all of the cucumbers we had before the rain, pickles were tempting, but we had a market at the coffee shop for them, and Bird eats them whole, so we let all of the cukes go beyond pickling size. Maybe next year. My sister is bringing some of her banana peppers this weekend and we hope to pickle those. If I can get one more batch of sauce put up, along with the applesauce and apple butter to come this fall, I'll be pretty happy. I do hope we're spared some of the rain next year so that we have more tomatoes to put up, but I can hardly complain when I look at the devastation our big-cousin family farms have suffered.

Sprout starts school next week and I can hardly believe it. I've had unbelievable anxiety this week instead of the calm relaxing preparatory week I'd hoped to give him. We're heading out for the weekend though, and hopefully that will refresh us for jumping into this next big phase on Tuesday. My baby is growing so fast.